Woman jailed for arson - Luton

11/09/2015

A woman, who started a fire at her flat in Luton, was jailed for three and a half years today, Friday, 11 September 2015.

Samantha Pearson started the fire after drinking and in a fit of depression.

Luton Crown Court heard how police received a 999 call at around 2pm on 28 May this year from a woman neighbour of Pearson, who lived in the same multi-occupancy block of flats as her in Leyburn Road, Luton. Pearson had warned the woman she was going to start a fire in her own flat. Officers rushed to the property, only to find 53-year-old Pearson refusing to open the door to them and let them into her flat.

Daniel Siong, prosecuting for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said that as officers were speaking to the neighbour, who had made the 999 call, they realised on the other side of her door Pearson had started a fire. The prosecutor said the police managed to force their way into the flat and discovered Pearson had set fire to some curtains by the door and had used some sort of accelerant to get it going. The officers were able to quickly put out the flames and Pearson was arrested.

She pleaded guilty on Friday to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

The court heard she had previous convictions, including one for arson when, in July 2009, again at the Crown Court, she was a given a community order with supervision. In March of this of this year, for possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and criminal damage, she was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for two years.

As a result of her appearance in court on Friday, Pearson was told she had breached the terms of the suspended sentence and would be re-sentenced.

Dan Hart, defending, told the court: "Miss Pearson has a history of gender identity disorder. She was born intersex, with both male and female genitalia." He said she wants to be a female and is undergoing hormone treatment while she waits for gender reassignment surgery. Mr Hart said what happened that day had been "attention seeking" by Pearson, who was struggling at the time with depression. The court was told she had used her time usefully while on remand in prison.

Passing sentence, Judge Barbara Mensah said the fire could have had far more serious consequences, but she said she accepted that Pearson had alerted others to what she was going to do. The police officers, who had got to the scene, had acted bravely in getting into the flat and putting out the fire, the Judge said. "This is a very serious offence even though no one was hurt," she told Pearson.

She jailed Pearson for two years and eight months for the arson, and for breaching the suspended sentence given to her in March, Pearson was given a further 10 months, making three and a half years in all.

Finally, before she left the dock, she was told she would also have to pay the criminal courts charge of £900.

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